In short, absolutely.
For the last day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to talk about recovery. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, a lot of sufferers doubt that their attempts at recovery will be successful, so I wanted to talk in this post about the recovery stories of former eating disorder patients, as well as looking at some statistics about how many people do recover.
ANRED.com claims that with treatment, around 60% of people with eating disorders fully recover. They will eventually maintain a healthy weight, eat a varied diet of normal foods, participate in meaningful friendships and romantic relationships, create families and careers, and become stronger people with a much more fulfilling life than they would have led with their disorder.
Around 20% of sufferers will make a partial recovery, and improve but not fully rid themselves of their disorder. Their focus on food and weight will weaken, but still remain unhealthy. They will have better friendships and relationships than they would with their disorder, but may not be completely satisfied. They may have jobs, but not extremely fulfilling careers. The remaining 20% do not improve, even with treatment. However, this does not mean that you should throw away the idea of recovering, as treatment for eating disorders is developing rapidly and successfully. The mortality rate from anorexia alone has been decreasing since the late 1980s, and the reason for this is assumed to be the improvement in medical and psychological treatments since that time. Our understanding and treatment of eating disorders is only improving.
I think that ANRED put my thoughts on this perfectly:
“We do know that recovery usually takes a long time, perhaps on average three to five years of slow progress that includes starts, stops, slides backwards, and ultimately, movement in the direction of mental and physical health.
If you believe you are in the forty percent of people who do not recover from eating disorders, give yourself a break. Get into treatment and stay there. Give it all you have. You may surprise yourself and find you are in the sixty percent after all.”
Demi Lovato is an American singer, songwriter, and actress who has been very open about her struggles with self-harm, substance abuse, and bulimia. Demi has been very open about her eating disorder and recovery in the media, and although she says that she still has bad days, she told Fitness Magazine in an interview that she feels at an all-time high now that she is “strong and happy”.
“I have come a long way mentally, emotionally, and physically, and I’m proud of where I am today. When I look back, it saddens me to think that I was so hard on myself — when I was younger, I thought I had to look like everyone else, but I learned that beauty comes from how you feel about yourself. Once I started taking care of my mind, body, and soul, I realised that I didn’t need to conform to what’s ‘normal’ and started to love myself.”- Demi in a BuzzFeed Interview
Musician Elton John has been very open about his struggle with bulimia, which has inspired increased public conversation about eating disorders, particularly among men. After what he says were “16 long years of denial”, he checked himself into rehab in 1990, which he said was successful, and helped him to make new friends and enjoy things he had never done before.
“As soon as I said those words [“I need help”], I knew that I was going to get better, and I was determined to get better, but it was just a relief to be able to say those words.”- Elton John to Larry King in 2002.
“As messed up as I’ve ever been. There was no question: I was going to change, or I was going to die.”- Elton John in his 2012 book, Love Is The Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
Actress Jane Fonda’s struggle with bulimia lasted for decades, but after she decided to recover 30 years ago, she now lives healthily.
“I wasn’t very happy from, I would say, puberty to 50? It took me a long time. It was in my 40s, and if you suffer from bulimia, the older you get, the worse it gets. It takes longer to recover from a bout. I had a career, I was winning awards, I was supporting nonprofits, I had a family. I had to make a choice: I live or I die.”
“Instead of viewing an arch — you rise, you peak, you decline — view it as a staircase. Your body may fall apart, but on every level that really matters, you can ascend toward enlightenment, wisdom, and authenticity,” she said. “That’s what I’m going for.” – Jane in an interview with Everyday Health
Singer Nicole Scherzinger has said that an eating disorder “almost stole her twenties”. After realising how much she could lose to her disorder, she chose to recover and is now “the healthy life and soul of every party”.
“But you can recover and you can get rid of it forever. I did it and that’s why it’s so important for me to share my story. I felt so alone… but I made myself so alone. You hide it from the world, you isolate yourself. But you can beat it – do not give up because you’re so special and you’re meant for such great things.” -Nicole in an interview with Cosmopolitan
These stories are 4 of many; a quick Google search for eating disorder recovery stories will bring up over 1 million results, and each one can show that recovery is completely possible.
I hope that this post has been helpful and encouraged you to seek help if you need it. It may also help to read some of my other posts this week, especially Friday’s post on eating disorder treatment that offers advice on how to get help. As cliché as this sounds, I am here if you need support and motivation to seek treatment, and I would really like to hear how things go for you if you do.
And that marks the end of my Eating Disorder Awareness Week posts. Although writing these posts for hours every day has been very tiring, it has also been a learning experience for me, and I feel that I have found out a lot more about eating disorders from the research that has gone into these posts. I hope that I have helped even one other person understand eating disorders more clearly, and if that is the case, then I feel all of the work I put into this series of posts has been absolutely worth it. If you have taken the time to read just one of these posts or all seven, then I thank you greatly.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have found this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your recovery. Keep growinggg!